No. 133 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island -
THE TALE OF TANGIER ISLAND
There once was a community of around six hundred people
who lived on Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, in the
land called America. They were an old people, descended from Cornish
fisherfolks, who still carried their Elizabethan origins in their
accent. Four fifths of the islanders thought of themselves as Christian,
but all was not well among them.
Their island's economy depended on oysters and blue
crab fisheries, but over the years, the oyster reefs had been so
badly damaged by over-harvesting and disease that the people depended
entirely on the crabs. In time, these too became overexploited,
and their fate was made worse by pollution from the farmers and
townspeople who lived along the bay.
Month by month, the watermen's incomes dropped, and
their anxiety increased – but when local environmentalists argued
that there should be stricter controls over the crab fishery, the
watermen became very angry, and there was bitter conflict.
It so happened that there was a woman living among
the people at that time, called Susan Drake Emmerich, from the Au
Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, in Wisconsin, which worked
for the integration of knowledge of the Creation with biblical principles,
and to bring the Christian community and the general public to a
better understanding of the stewardship of God's Creation.
The woman Susan spent three years living among the
islanders, and after much talking, she realized that deep down,
most did in fact believe there was a scriptural requirement to steward
the environment and its creatures, which included the crabs and
oysters. For some reason, the belief had become lost, and the watermen
had taken to treating the ocean as an object, which they could use
or abuse as they wanted.
Slowly, the woman Susan started to work with the people,
and together, they wrote a Stewardship Covenant, which would govern
their relationship with the sea. Eventually, there came a day, a
Sunday, when Susan was invited to speak at a joint service of both
churches on the island. She spoke of biblical environmental stewardship,
and of the importance of loving one's neighbour. She spoke of the
fish, and the sea, and how they too were a part of God’s creation.
And it came to pass at the end of the service, that
Susan invited the watermen to come up before their God, and to ask
forgiveness for breaking the fishery laws, both those of the nation
and those of God. There were fifty six who came forward, and there
were many who shed tears as they asked for forgiveness, and committed
themselves to the Stewardship Covenant.
The Covenant spoke of the need for caretaking, and
the Godly stewarding of creation. It spoke of the importance of
maintaining the fruitfulness of the crabs and oysters, and of practicing
contentment, instead of greed. It spoke of the need for the ocean
and all of creation also to have a Sabbath time of rest, and of
the need to love one's neighbour, and not pollute the bay. It spoke
of the need to obey the law of God, as well as the fishery laws.
From that time forward, these watermen began to bring
back their garbage, rather than dumping it at sea, as had been their
wont, and some spoke emotionally in church of feeling that they
had sinned after throwing their metal cans overboard, or taking
undersized crabs. Truly, the fisheries scientists, environmentalists,
and government officials were amazed.
This is a true story, even though I’ve dressed it
up in Biblical terms. For the source, see www.calvin.edu/scs/ 125conf/emmeric.htm.
There is still opposition to the covenant among some of the watermen,
but it gives us a glimpse of how things might be.
I am not a Christian – I am more of a transcendental
cosmic pantheist - but the story shows what is lacking in our culture:
the sense of place amid Nature; the sense that there is still right
and wrong, beyond the supremacy of corporate shares and personal
income; the sense that repentance is still a meaningful experience,
as we acknowledge fault in an open, public way.
What will it take for an ethic of this kind to be
restored? Right now, on the planet as a whole, we are behaving like
a gang of children raiding a sweet store while the adults are away,
laughing as they share the joke that the adults will never know
who did it. Ancient forests, million-year old stocks of fish – we
just grab it all, and laugh as we spend the money gained on new
bathrooms, and expensive pieces of art.
When our elected legislators, the leaders of the business
community, the law itself, and our whole TV and media culture say
this is ok, and when our religious leaders are almost totally silent,
how are we to judge when we are doing wrong, as a culture?
Many of Earth’s aboriginal people have a deep remembered
knowledge of what is "wrong", when we sin against Nature,
and God’s Creation; but our culture has gone wholly adrift. Even
the scientists, who have written the story we believe in and who
are in effect the high priests of our culture, are almost totally
We need a new Christmas, to bring the birth of hope
at the darkest time in our history. We need a new sense of the sacred,
and a new sense of what is "holy". So let’s create it!
We are the ones with the power to make the future – or break it.
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* The Ecoforestry Institute needs a volunteer web master
, and for our Journal committee. We make a difference in how our
forests are used. Call Peter Jungwirth 250-334-4559 email@example.com
* Sweatlodge: Is there one locally that we can join? Call
Scott 380-0428 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Garden designs with nature in mind by Stewardship Natural
Landscape Design. Christina Nikolic, 382-4450 email@example.com
* Sherri Hohert, M.S.W., R.S.W. Counselling for individuals,
couples, and families. Call 250-598-0544.
* Wanted: Small inexpensive Fairfield or Oak Bay bachelorette
(long term) for quiet, considerate female with small footprint,
excellent references. Elizabeth 383-4787 7-8pm firstname.lastname@example.org
* Vegan House! Need 1 more vegan to share Victoria 4bdrm
house in Fairfield for Jan 1st. email@example.com
Why didn’t someone think of this before? Looking
to recycle that old chair, TV, fax machine, or door? Every town
has people who'd like to see their old stuff go to good use rather
than end up in the trash. A recycling group in Tucson called "Downtown
Don't Waste It" has created the Tucson Freecycle Network, harnessing
the power of email to connect people who want to give away unwanted
possessions to people who can use them. Using a simple Yahoo! Groups
email list, you post a note about something you’d like to give away,
or seek. The only rule is that everything must be free. 1700 people
have joined since they started in March, and Freecycling has now
arrived on Vancouver Island, with 95 members so far. Everything
is on the website, or you can receive a daily email. So tell your
friends, dust off that unwanted Yak wool sweater, and join Canada’s
first Freecycle group! Sign up at www.groups.yahoo.com/group/vifreecycle
INGMAR’S GREEN HOPES
Vancouver Island’s loggers may be on strike, but
Ingmar Lee is not. Ingmar, a life-long professional forestry worker,
left Victoria in November for a hectic tour of Germany, Holland
and Sweden, where he is showing his new film "Beyond the Cutting
Edge: A Trip to the Primaeval Forests of East Creek", and hopefully
getting the Europeans riled up against the destruction of our priceless
wild heritage, which the forest corporations would rather sell for
2 x 4s than preserve for future generations to wonder at. And no,
folks, Cathedral Grove does not cut it! Meanwhile, the Friends of
Clayoquot Sound are in Japan with members of the Tlaoquiaht First
Nation, asking Interfor’s corporate customers to cancel their contracts
for timber from Clayoquot Sound’s ancient forests. Interfor’s permits
to cut on Tlaoquiaht territory were approved by the provincial government
despite being rejected by the Central Region Board, the co-management
body that involves First Nations in land-use decisions. We wish
you all great good fortune! Give them all a copy of Harry Potter!
All 900,000 copies of the Raincoast Books Canadian edition of Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were printed on Ancient
Forest Friendly paper that is 100% post consumer recycled, processed
chlorine free (the same as the paper you’re holding). If you want
to thank Raincoast, they’re firstname.lastname@example.org
SOROS TO THE RESCUE
When Harry Potter leaves Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry, maybe he’ll bring his skills to bear on the real world,
and help us evict Voldemort and his corporate cousins from World
Trade Organization and the White House. Until then, it’s George
Soros to the rescue! Aged 74, Soros is an arch capitalist who has
given almost $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet
Union. Soros has been waking up at 3am, his thoughts shaking him
"like an alarm clock". "America, under Bush, is a
danger to the world. When I hear Bush say ‘You’re either with us
or against us’ it conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls.
He’s leading the US and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating
violence." Soros is alarmed at the growing influence of the
neo-conservatives - "a bunch of extremists guided by a crude
form of social Darwinism." To back his words, he and a partner
have given $5 million to MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, bringing
his donations to oust Bush to $15.5 million. Harry would be proud.
Residential – Commercial
Indoor – Outdoor
Carpentry – Painting - Flooring Composters - Creative storage
& much more
Harald Wolf – 250-882-9653
But what if Harry thought it best to first enroll in a business
school, to learn some useful skills? He’d find that most were under
the control of Voldemort, teaching the supremacy of the market,
and laughing as ancient forests fell while share values rose. Lucky
for Harry, we can point him to Beyond Grey Pinstripes 2003: Preparing
MBAs for Social and Environmental Stewardship(www.beyondgreypinstripes.org),
an annual survey that identifies MBA schools and that pay attention
to social impact and environmental management, and the triple bottom
line of sustainability. York University’s Schulich School of Business
in Toronto is among the top achievers. If Harry lived in Victoria,
he’d find that UVic’s Faculty of Business (alas) was still teaching
Voldemort’s "Grab It While You Can" approach to entrepreneurship,
but that just across the water, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute
MBA in Sustainable Business Practice was right on the nail. Working
with class cohorts of no more than 25 students, the Bainbridge school
offers an MBA program for students who want their work to reflect
their environmental, social and spiritual values. Students meet
for 11 intensives a year in a grass-roofed cob house at Channel
Rock, on Cortes Island, and the rest of the work is done from home.
OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS
(to the tune of Jingle Bells…)
Dashing through the malls, driving everywhere,
through the sprawl we go, credit all the way. Bills from catalogues
fall, making spirits pall, oh what gall it is to sing a shopping
Jingle bells, landfill swells, garbage all
the way. Oh what waste it is to drive a great big SUV. Jingle bells,
workhouse toils, sweatshops all the way. Oh how sad it is to wear
a child-sewn pair of jeans.
Want to make a difference? The Land Conservancy
has gifts that will help protect BC’s special places. If you wander
down to the Abkhazi Garden Gift Shop at 1964 Fairfield Rd (nr Foul
Bay, 10-5pm), you’ll find books, cards, prints, jewellery, clothing,
birdhouses, a Victoria Gardens Calendar, solar flashlights, solar
education kits, and who knows what else. You can sponsor the protection
of land in someone’s name, or adopt habitat on their behalf for
a bear, bat, butterfly badger, frog, salmon or owl. Don’t be shy
– it’s worth a try. You can shop on-line too at www.conservancy.ca
Christmas is also singing a green tune at the
Western Canada Wilderness Committee store at 651 Johnson St, where
you can find beautiful Wildlife and Wilderness calendars, posters,
books and cards, First Nations mushrooms, wild smoked salmon, huckleberry
jellies and cedar soap, hemp T-shirts and tote-bags, videos, and
kids books. The Raincoast Gallery at 2240 Harbour Road, Sidney,
serving the dreams of the Great Bear Rainforest, has beautiful (top
end) limited edition colour prints. See www.raincoast.org/gallery
And then there’s books! The entire range of titles from New Society
Publishers on Gabriola Island has 20% off until December 31st
– all printed on ancient forest free, 100% recycled paper. For friends
and family in the suburbs, there’s Superbia! - 31 Ways to Create
Sustainable Neighborhoods. For a parent, there’s Above All
Be Kind – Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times. For the
eco-gourmet, there’s Hollyhock Cooks, and for a restless
teenager, there’s The Better World Handbook. And for a gift
of hopeful short stories, there’s Earthfuture: Stories from a
Sustainable World (for a signed copy, call me at 881-1304. The
same applies to my book Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global
Climate Change). For a good magazine subscription as a "change
the world" gift, I recommend YES! Magazine, The Ecologist,
The Watershed Sentinel, the New Internationalist, & Worldwatch
(all in Munro’s Books). Finally, Victoria author John Crouch has
produced Walk Victoria – Your Guide to 50 Urban and Suburban
Walks, a great gift for anyone who is new to the city, or wants
to explore it further. You’ll find it in Munro’s, Bolen’s, Ivy’s
and Tanners Books, or signed from 592-5107.
Hiking through the hills, forests green and
still, dreaming of a world, safe for everyone. Kindness rules the
land, making spirits bright, oh what joy it is to send a grateful
Jingle bells, sweetgrass smells, angels all
the way. Oh what joy it is to live on a planet oh so green. Oh,
jingle bells, Bush is gone, America’s given up war. Oh what joy
it is to work for a world that works for all.
SEEDS OF VICTORIA
A Gift of Seeds Sows Thoughts of You
Choose from Nine Different Themes
Organic Seed Collections
Call Carolyn Herriot, 250-881-1555
THE FRENCH CHARTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT
As EcoNews reported in October, the French cabinet
has approved a plan to add an Environmental Charter to the country’s
constitution. If the bill passes, the pre-amble of France’s national
constitution will be amended to refer to the charter, placing it
on an equal footing with France’s landmark 1789 human rights document,
"The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen."
The legal implications are truly profound. Thanks to Christine Nikiloc,
we now have a translation:
The first paragraph of the preamble of the French constitution
is amended as follows:
"The French nation solemnly declares its belief in human
rights and in the principles of national sovereignty as defined
in the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and amended by the Preamble
of the Constitution of 1946; as well as in the rights and obligations
defined in the Charter of the Environment of 2003."
The Charter of the Environment of 2003 reads as follows:
"The French nation, recognizing:
- that the rise of humanity was made possible through the existence
of natural resources and the balance of nature;
- that the future and the very existence of humanity are inseparable
from our natural surroundings;
- that the environment is the common heritage of all human beings;
- that humanity exerts an increasing influence on the conditions
of life, and on our very evolution;
- that biodiversity, personal fulfilment, and the progress of
human societies are affected by certain forms of consumption and
production, and by the excessive exploitation of natural resources;
- that safeguarding the environment must be required alongside
other fundamental national interests;
- that, in order to ensure sustainable development, choices that
are intended to meet the needs of the present should not compromise
the ability of future generations and other nations to meet their
Art. 1 - Every person has the right to live in a balanced environment
that is conducive to his or her health.
Art. 2 - Every person has the duty to participate in the conservation
and improvement of the environment.
Art. 3 - Every person must, under the conditions defined by law,
prevent or at least limit the impact they are likely to have on
Art. 4 - Every person must contribute to the repair of damage that
they cause to the environment, under the conditions defined by law.
Art. 5 - If the occurrence of damage has the potential to affect
the environment in a serious and irreversible manner, even though
there may be scientific uncertainty, the public authorities should
apply the precautionary principle, and adopt provisional measures
that are sufficient to prevent harm, while doing what is needed
to evaluate the risks incurred.
Art. 6 - Public policies must promote sustainable development.
To this end, they must take into account the protection and development
of the environment, while reconciling this with economic and social
Art. 7 – Everyone has the right, under the conditions and limitations
defined by law, to have access to information concerning the environment
that is held by the public authorities, and to participate in public
decision making processes that have an impact on the environment.
Art. 8 - Environmental education must contribute to the exercise
of the rights and duties defined in this Charter.
Art. 9 - Research and innovation must contribute to the protection
and development of the environment.
Art. 10 - This Charter of the Environment will guide France’s actions
in Europe and internationally.
And here’s an excerpt from a televised Interview given by Mr. Jacques
Chirac, President of the French Republic, on France's National Day,
Paris, 14 July 2003:
"But there's another problem we don't talk enough about in
the world: the environment. Since the industrial revolution, not
just in France, but of course all over the world, we have taken
a path which wasn't sufficiently responsible and is leading to our
planet's eventual destruction. I don't want to go into detail, but
it's extraordinarily dangerous and wholly irresponsible. So today
it's high time to make the necessary effort to modify our development
model, which can no longer be the same as that of the industrial
revolution. We have to modify it to take the environmental considerations
It's with this in mind that we, France wanted to set the example.
We have just been warmly congratulated … for presenting the Environment
Charter which was approved by the Council of Ministers and will,
I hope, be definitive before the end of the year. The goals are
to preserve our environment, but perhaps to an even greater extent
than this, we are seeking changes in our own culture to instil in
it greater respect for our environment, i.e. nature in the broadest
sense of the term. This is an absolutely essential reform."
EXPLORE, AND BEHOLD!
ACTION OF THE MONTH:
(1) PAUL MARTIN
Let’s welcome our new Prime Minister with some
planetary realities, in case he thinks his business friends and
shipping magnates have the best ideas. Let’s send him some creative
Christmas cards, asking him to do any of the following (take your
pick, add your own!):
* Persist with Canada’s commitment to Kyoto and
the change-over to a green economy, to halt global climate change.
* Get the hell out of America’s Star Wars Missile
Defence program, which Martin seems to think is a good idea.
* Give the cities the money they need to fund proper
* Use our taxpayer dollars to eliminate all homelessness
in Canada, for ever.
* Persist with Canada’s efforts to fight AIDS,
and help Africa.
* Persist with Canada’s leadership in reducing
the developing nations’ debts, which they have repaid many times
over in interest charges to the West’s banks.
* Take a "fair trade, justice for all"
position at the WTO and other global negotiations. Let’s have Canada
support countries like Brazil and India, against the US and European
* Switch Canada’s method of measuring "progress"
from GDP to a genuine progress indicator that reveals what’s really
happening, not just how much we’re spending.
* Remember that "Canada" does not have
a "U" or an "S" in it. Remember the words "True
North strong and free"!
Send your card to:
The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Office of the
Prime Minister, 80 Wellington St, Ottawa, K1A 0A2
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Conway Road, Victoria V9E 2B9, Canada. Thanks !
here for previous issues of EcoNews.
395 Conway Road, Victoria V9E
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304
Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate
(New Society Publishers)
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